WA cuts could ignite safety issues
The WA electrical union says job cuts could seriously undermine bushfire safety.
The union says state-owned energy firm Western Power has announced cuts to maintenance and support staff across the state, as part of moves to privatise the network and company.
Electrical Trades Union chief Les McLaughlan says the first round will see more than 200 full-time positions cut in WA, focusing on substations and depots in the Peel and Murray areas.
The ETU rejects the government’s privatisation plan, saying it will not fix debt problems in the long term and will place more pressure on an already threadbare network.
“Privatisation is not the solution for the government’s debt problems, and will only lead to higher prices and poorer quality services, as private companies try to squeeze every last dollar of profit for their shareholders,” Mr McLaughlan said.
“If poles and wires are sold to the private sector, they will only invest in the network when it is profitable for them to do so.
“This could result in many parts of the network being left to decay, with disastrous consequences during bushfire season.”
Victoria recently wrapped up its Royal Commission into the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which left 150 people dead.
The inquiry found that faulty power lines (which had been privatised) were responsible for starting five particularly devastating blazes.
Mr McLaughlan said it should be a warning.
“This tragic case study highlights the very real dangers of electricity privatisation to the community.”
The union believes the cuts will hit areas damaged by bushfires in particular, including the townships of Waroona and Yarloop and surrounding areas, where power infrastructure was still not secure.
“With the growing threat of bushfire in WA, we can’t afford to take risks with the maintenance of our electricity network.
“Colin Barnett needs to learn from the failures of privatisation around Australia and around the world and leave WA’s electricity system in public ownership.”